I’ve always been a great believer in risks. Taking a chance, living for the moment, reaching for the bloody stars, whatever S Club 7 told me to do- I did. You’re supposed to live every day like it’s your last, it’s what every single quote of the day, Disney film and house anthem has been telling me to do for the past twenty years...
Well damn it, I take risks, I’ve taken risks, the risks are gone, all of them. I am officially out of risks. I couldn’t even lend you one if you popped around and asked nicely. And what do I have to show for it? A great bloody big what the hell am I doing soufflé, seasoned with a gaping bank account and a dollop of full fat uncertainty.
My greatest fear as a child was mediocrity. I know that sounds very dramatic and self obsessed but you underestimate how painfully seriously I took myself as a young’n. If you had asked me what my favourite film was I’d have looked you in the eyes and said “Taxi Driver”. I would have been lying, it was “Mermaids”. However if you had asked me what my greatest fear was I’d have answered “That I’ll end up like Salieri. Rival of Mozart. Driven mad my jealousy, frustrated ambition, the knowledge of my own mediocrity and paucity of talent. An also ran, a nearly, a just not quite” Sadly that would not have been a lie. “Amadeus”, the film about the genius composer and his frenemy Salieri, freaked me out, haunted me and I swore I would never be ordinary, never accept the easy option, the H&M version of the designer original ,with all the heart stopping sincerity only a twelve year old girl can muster.
His penniless death in a pauper’s grave passed slightly over my head but then I have a habit of missing the points of things. I also thought Wham’s Last Christmas was about an organ transplant that had gone wrong (In my defence it was released around the same time Nanny finally got her new kidney so talk of rejected body parts were terms flying about our house at the time)
I decided there and then it was better to risk everything in the pursuit of greatness than merely exist in the hope of adequacy. Like that quote? Thanks, I made that up when I was fifteen. Yes, I was that annoying. Imagine how irratating English teachers must have found me? The thing is I have been making all my adult decisions based on this young girl’s philosophy.
Now I’m beginning to wonder how that’s working out for me and think it’s time for a bit of life motto stock taking, some personal philosophy in house enquiry. This has been inspired by the recent Edinburgh Festival where I took my first hour show up. I had a great time there, it was brilliant but like most short term goals; love affairs, children, fake nails, it was a great way of avoiding reality. As a comic you’re encouraged to give your first show absolutely everything; finiacally, emotionally and mentally and rise or fall like a Byronic hero in the attempt. This was my moment, the one that Martine McCutchen had sung about during her brief pop career, the one Leona Lewis had waited for, the one Whitney Houston had begged for during the 1988 Special Olympics. All the girls were on my side, warbling and rooting for me, to screw my courage into a ball and like a more confident Alfred J. Prufrock dare! The entire history of popular culture and English literature where telling me I was doing exactly the right thing putting all my money, quitting my job, subletting my flat into my show. And did I gloriously fail or heroically succeed? Or did I just have a modestly successful first year in Edinburgh, and find myself afterwards slightly further along my comedy road but I still not quite on the M1?
Did I think that would be the outcome? Yes…and well, you never know do you…. Who knows what happens? Edinburgh is a lottery, Hollywood for ugly people… Chances are something would just happen, if I was brave, worked hard enough and believed. Felt the fear, the fear of unemployment, financial meltdown and homelessness and did it anyway. Things always just happen. So that’s why I decided to rent my room out for not just the entire month of August but September as well. I didn’t need somewhere to stay did I? I mean to live? You know to have all my bloody possessions in one place at the same time? What like loser Salieri would do? I’ll spend my rent money on flyers thanks. Who needs to follow suburban squares restricted by their bourgeois principles? Losers. I’m a bohemian... I didn’t need a job either. It’ll be fine hand that notice in...
So here I am. Post living the Edinburgh dream, sleeping in friend’s spare room for the month, slacking at an £8.50 temp job, praying inspectors don’t jump on my bendy bus and absolutely no idea what I’m doing with my life. Literally, no clue. So I’ve decided to document my commitment to bohemian risk taking. My refusal to have a fall back plan. The shiver that runs through my spine every time a job in teaching is mentioned. The smug feeling I get rooting through old class mates face book photos. Ha, look at those losers with their rewarding day jobs, houses and families living nearby! I’d be played by Angelina Jolie in a movie of my life. I just wonder how she’d play the scene where hungover in the supermarket, hovering over the reduced counter in her pyjamas, young couples with babies doing their weekly shop making her soul sob?
I‘m going to look back at all the times I could have done the sensible thing and self righteously didn’t. I know what you’re thinking. She’ll decide that of course taking the risks always pays off, ruefully not regrette a rien and Keane will start playing in the background. It’s always like that isn’t it? Yes, well once, after reading a Henry Miller novel, I insisted on sleeping on a park bench. My bag got stolen. So let’s not go making any assumptions shall we?